Saturday, 30 March 2013

Gong Con 2013 - Day 1 - The Battle of the Five Armies

Gong Con is an event put on by the Gamers' Guild of the University of Wollongong. Since, despite not being at the university, our group is part of the Guild, we put on some miniatures games to complement the role-playing and board-games. If you've been following this blog you'll know that we've been preparing a HOTT battle based on The Battle of the Five Armies from 'The Hobbit'.

Today was the big day when we unleashed it for public display. The aim was that we could have a game we could play ourselves but where people could drop in and have a go as the day progressed.

The armies were as follows:


This army was in two commands, plus reinforcements.

Command 1 - Men and Dwarves

Gandalf and Bard - 1 x Hero General
Dwarves - 4 x Blades
Men of Laketown - 4 x Spears, 4 x Shooters

Command 2 - The Elves of Mirkwood

Thranduil - 1 x Spear General
Elves - 5 x Spears, 5 x Shooter


Thorin and Companions - Hero
The Eagles - 2 x Flyers
Beorn - 1 x Behemoth

The reinforcements appeared as the Alliance took casualties. A command could 'trade in' 6AP of casualties to bring one lot of reinforcements - Thorin appeared first, at the gate to the Lonely Mountain, then the Eagles, on any board edge, and finally Beorn in the rear of the Goblin army. Reinforcements were controlled by the command whose casualties triggered them, but ignored the extra PIP cost for distance from the general to reflect their independent nature.


 Main Command

Bolg - 1 x Hero General
Bodyguard - 3 x Warband
Archers - 3 x Shooters
Warg Riders - 2 x Riders
Warriors - 6 x Hordes

Second Command

Goblin Commander - 1 x Warband General
Archers - 2 x Shooters
Warriors - 8 x Hordes
Wargs - 6 x Beasts
Warg Riders - 2 x Riders


Warriors - 4 x Warband

A bridge/ford was place far up the valley, towards The Gate. If an element of the Goblin/Warg army reached the bridge then it triggered the Goblin reinforcements, who appeared on the mountain slopes above the Alliance army. They could be divided between the Goblin commands as desired and, like the Alliance reinforcements, didn't cost extra PIPs to move if out of command.

We suspended most of the HOTT big battle rules - armies lost only when they had lost half of their APs. Losing a general was inconvenient, but not fatal. However the Goblins/Wargs could also win by capturing the Gate (treated as a Stronghold).

The victory conditions, and reinforcement rules, were designed to encourage the Goblins and Wargs to push down the valley, but also to encourage the men, Dwarves and Elves to come down off the hill-slopes. And they seemed to work.

We played through two games on the day, and here are lots of pictures.

Elves formed up on the one hill-slope.

Men and Dwarves on the other.

The ruins of Dale and the Lonely Mountain. The ruins marked the Goblin/Warg baseline and had no terrain effect. The river was for show (it has no effect on the battle in the book. The pond by the Gate is impassable. The slopes are gentle, except for the third contour which is bad going.

Here come the Goblins!

As ever the Elves bore the brunt of the fighting.

The Wargs went off on a flank march.

Warg Riders reached the bridge, but were surrounded by Elves and Dwarves.

Goblins appear on the slopes above the Elven command.

The Elves are sandwiched between two hordes of ravening Goblins.

Back to back they put up a brave fight.

But to no avail.

Hordes of  goblins close on the Men of Laketown.

A few Wargs end up a little outnumbered.

Dwarves attack some Goblins, whilst their Elven 'allies' watch.

Thorin appears from under the mountain, looking and sounding just like Brian Blessed.

The Elves and Dwarves form up side by side.

Battle-lines snake across the valley.

The Wargs charge the Laketown archers. In this battle they were slaughtered. When they did it in the next it was the archers who were wiped out.

Goblin hordes hang around looking busy.

A view from the other side of the valley.

Bolg leads his troops in another assault on the Elves. He spent most of the battle failing to kill Elven archers.

The Goblins won the first battle. We swapped side for the second, and Caesar and John took things far too seriously by having a Goblin/Warg council of war and preparing A Plan.

A fisheye view from the mountain.

And a more conventional one.

The Elves come off the mountain in an attempt to prevent the Goblins from reaching the bridge.

They fail, and end up horribly outflanked.

Gandalf and Bard encourage the Men of Laketown.

Elven archers lurk on the upper slopes, preparing to hold up the Goblin reinforcements.

Another view from the mountain.

It's that fisheye again.

With the Elves in trouble Thorin gets stuck into Bolg - and kills him with the assistance of some eagles.

Hordes of the Things!

Some Dwarves looking a little lonely.

The Alliance forces looking a little thin on the ground,

Thorin pushed forward against some warg riders, but couldn't defeat them.

Despite the loss of both of their generals the Goblins won again. In fact only one general survived this second battle - wily old Gandalf.

The game was a great success, and was good fun to play. It seemed to attract attention, as most people know the Middle Earth background. For those that only know The Hobbit from the film we called it A Spoiler :) Putting it together was a real team-effort, with all of us providing and/or painting figures, and helping make the terrain. The rules and scenario came together surprisingly quickly (faster than our Pelennor Fields game last year), and gave a pretty balanced game with a few tactical choices for each side. At the end of the day it encouraged a good hard fight between two fairly well-matched armies.

Ralph and Brian put on some Flames of War, which I'm sure Ralph will chronicle more fully on his own blog.

I was asked to document some burning tanks. No, not Ralph's (although these are his) ...

 ... but those of his opponent.

Day two of the Con is tomorrow, but we're just planning on some more modest 15mm HOTT games.


  1. It looks absolutely brilliant! It also shows that with a little tweaking the rules for HOTT can be used to fight slightly different battles rather than the straight 24AP kind of fights.

    The figures all look fantastic by the way.

  2. Looks a good layout. I really like that stylised red/black mountain shield design, might have to nick that!

    1. I'll let John know you liked it - he designed it as a suitable emblem for the Goblins of the Misty Mountains.

  3. Man, sounds like a great game! I wish I could have played in it, but it's too long a drive for me :)

    Thanks for sharing the army lists and posting photos.

  4. great report of a wonderfull game! thanx for sharing :)

  5. John here, I nicked it from someone else, but it is easy to paint, red, black and an off white.

  6. Yes it looked even more impressive than the rehearsals, adding the ground scatter really made the terrain come alive.

    A real crowd pleaser (although 'crowd' is a relative term in Australia...) that showed wargaming off very well.

    1. I think the whole room was - a good selection of games, and lots of nice figures on display, plus enthusiastic noise.

  7. Great report!
    Thanks for sharing!


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